The Need for a Spiritual Reset, Part II

many have identified problems amongst the people of God, the suggested solutions are often unbiblical and not helpful in advancing the kingdom of God.

I left our discussion last time with a tease about what the Spirit informed me when I was asked to preach on the topic of “Does the Church Need to Change?”

His answer was, “Yes.”

What needed to change? What did the guy who taught others how to initiate and sustain conversations, to disarm arguments against the knowledge of God, and of the love we show when we share our faith with others?

What I perceived from the Spirit was that what needed to change in my church family was me.

I talk about this extensively in my book Superhero: Being Who God Says You Are. There is a beauty and simplicity in what Yeshua calls us to be; salt and light. The basic concept is that we are to abide in Christ as he abides in us and walk with him throughout our day, wherever he puts us.

We do not have to give up our “ordinary life” and travel halfway around the world to live in a hut in order to be on mission for our Savior.

Do you get why?

No one in whom the Christ dwells will ever have an “ordinary” life!

Plus, think of it, when Jesus emphasized the concept of loving your neighbor by illustrating that the least likely person was your neighbor also (i.e., the Pharisee’s neighbor was a Samaritan and vice versa) that also makes it clear that your neighbor is the person living on your street, in your apartment, working at the stores and restaurants you frequent, and those you work with.

In my case, the Spirit brought to mind that I often let my fear of social awkwardness or getting turned in to management for being too evangelistic keep me from finding out where each pilot I flew with was with God.

So I vowed to God that for the next six weeks (the time I had before I had to preach that sermon) I would find out where everyone I flew with was with God.

Kind of scary at first, but it turned amazing really quickly.

For six weeks of flying, I discovered something.

The most common comment I received from the men I flew with was, “It’s interesting you asked me that, I have really been struggling with…” and then some description of their attempt to find God, or increase their faith, or some other spiritual struggle. Every single person was in the middle of something that God was doing in their lives and as a result of my “changing” as a member of God’s church I was able to participate in what God was doing.

It was anything but ordinary.

It was faith building, it was encouraging.

I helped these guys through Christ and the Spirit dwelling and speaking through me.

Each of these men helped me—through the mutual encouragement of Christ working through them.

So my obedience to the Spirit changed a part of my church—and I went back and excitedly reported to my closest friends in church what had happened. Our church changed a bit—became a bit more effective in glorifying God and expanding the Kingdom.

All through a partial reset of one member—a cascade of good began rippling though God’s big kingdom.

A Big Lesson About Church Change

Once again we need to remind ourselves that as members of our Lord’s church we are not serving a system but rather are to be the body of Christ himself. While we certainly should and must assemble together—we need to adjust what that “together” looks like.

Once again, I look forward to the traditional assembly and activities therein.

But it is in the keeping of the “to one another” admonishments that the church primarily grows and becomes strong. We may (and hopefully do) learn from a well-crafted and inspired sermon. We can grow in our knowledge of who God is and where his heart is through Bible study. We can be lost in praise in our singing and receive strength and encouragement from the same. We can approach God in prayer together and praise him and know that he is there to help us in life. We can slow down for a moment and commune with our Savior—taking part in the precious body and blood given so that we may join with him in his work as justified children. Yes, “formal” worship is very good.

Ultimately it is our daily abiding in Christ emboldened and strengthened through that “to one another” relationship of love with fellow believers that makes the bride of Christ beautiful and powerful.

If all we do is “go to worship” and get psyched up or check off the “worship box” for the week—we are not being the body of Christ.

Getting to the point where we start to comprehend that we are on-mission everyday and in every way is a process—and likely we need to reset our spirit in order to get there.

The question is—how?

Thinking About Why the Path is Hard

The path is hard because it involves something that we do not do well—or at all.


Stick with me here.

More than a decade ago a coworker, understanding my love for reading and learning but perhaps perceiving a problem with my thinking, recommended the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

It is one of the most significant books I have read in my life. Kahneman makes a conclusive and well-documented case that thinking is not something we do well or at all. He includes in that “we,” himself, and even people in thinking professions do not actually think well, or at all. His book is thick and replete with ways in which we as humans usually do not think.

This is where and why so many of us who own Bibles and go to church fail when it comes to being more Christ-like, or having his bride being a creature of power and beauty.

At some point, each believer receives what I have come to call a “ball of doctrine.” Or perhaps a box of burgers.

Box of burgers?

Yep, when I was newly married I was finishing up my last two years of college and working at a fast-food burger joint. Only two weeks into my experience with burger-flipping I was called in early one morning to “unload the truck.” My more experienced but younger coworkers warned me that this was a brutal assignment.

Wesley, the Assistant Manager would be overseeing the truck unloading. The young guys told me how it would go, there would be probably 40-50 boxes of frozen burgers coming on the 18-wheeler, Wesley would stand in the back of the semi-trailer, 5 feet off the ground and he was a big strong football-player type of guy. He would hurl the 40 pound boxes of burgers down to us from the trailer and we would catch them and walk them over to the freezer.

These experienced teens told me how they always ended up bruised and sometimes bleeding from the experience.

So, I showed up at the appointed time. The truck, Wesley, and my two young coworkers were there—and sure enough, Wesley threw the first heavy box with force to John. It hit him like a 40 pound chunk of metal, his body reeled back, there was an audible sound of pain, and John walked toward the cooler.

Wesley looked at me, hurled the next box, I had my arms already open, and then I pulled them back and stepped aside. The box hit the pavement and exploded, frozen burgers skidding across the parking lot.

Wesley exploded in anger, “Hey man, you’re supposed to catch that.”

I calmly looked at Wesley, and explained, “I’m making minimum wage and going to school to be a pilot. I’m not going to get hurt doing this. Sorry.”

He stared at me, picked up another box, and set it down at the end of the trailer.

My two coworkers were amazed.

It hadn’t occurred to them that a person doesn’t have to catch what is thrown. Especially something that could damage a person.

The doctrinal beliefs of any church, if you want to start a proper reset, should be examined in light of what Scripture reveals. They are a potential flying box of frozen burgers. They may not only hurt you, but they can hurt the name of Christ.

It’s not that we need to reject out of hand the doctrine of a church—that doctrine may (and likely at times is) something we strongly believe we have thought through and believe to be correct.

But as is the point of this section and the whole book Thinking Fast and Slow, thinking is not a human strong point.

While those who developed that doctrine likely had good intentions and were attempting to do what is right, they also faced the same challenges with thinking that we do. We must as people who love God with all of our minds be able to explain from Scripture why we believe what we believed. We must not rely on talented preachers, teachers, pastors, writers, or priests.

Wrapping up Part II of the Reset

In case you are not convinced, please read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a long read—and you likely will not have to read the whole thing to become convinced that Mr. Kahneman is right. One of the beautiful points that he makes early on is so relevant to our walk as disciples of Christ; he just contends that if we more fully understand how poorly each of us thinks, we would be more gentle with each other when we have disagreements.

So first, please read his book.

Secondly, you likely (as I did years ago) hold a box of doctrinal burgers as being God’s truth. That’s okay, but begin the process of a reset by going to God and asking him to give you courage, strength, and grace to let those burgers crash to the pavement and then examine those individual patties for rot.

This will require you to look straight into the claims of your faith group while also looking at Scripture in a particular way.

First, come to Scripture prayerfully and ask God to give you a fresh view. The goal is to first see what would the Bible tell you if you had never seen it or heard it before.

This is extremely challenging to do.

It is also important, if you are going to get serious about God, that you take some time to learn about Bible culture and the ethnic expectations of the day. The Hebrew/Greek/Roman cultures had some very different traditions and norms than we do—it helps us to understand Scripture better if we at least have a bit of understanding of the people of Bible times.

Lastly for now, use some basic hermeneutic tools such as:

  1. Find out who the book is written to. Understand that the Bible was not written to you but was preserved for you. For instance, the book of Revelation is addressed to the seven churches in Asia. Our first task in reading that work is to attempt to grasp what the words contained therein would have been understood to mean by those who received it. The first meaning goes to the people of that time to whom the letter was written. We may take some important secondary messages from it, but it was not addressed to us—the works of Tim LaHaye notwithstanding.
  2. Find out who wrote the book, if possible. For some books the author is unknown, such as Hebrews. But for others, such as “Luke” and “Acts,” we know the writer is Luke. So, who is this guy (a question we should ask ourselves when the author is known). Luke was a Gentile physician following a Jewish Rabbi. That’s important. When Luke talks about the disciples meeting on the first day of the week—understand that the Jews and Greeks had a bit of a different concept of when those days started. For Jews, the first day started at sundown on our Saturday. Greeks used the middle of the night. So when we see believers on one occasion (Acts 20) meeting on “the first day” was it Saturday night, or late Sunday afternoon (I only ask this because Paul continues talking until after midnight.) For believers who contend that example are “binding” this gets a bit sticky. In an effort to not draw distinctions where God has not done so, we must be careful in understanding who wrote the text. Would Luke use a Greek concept of the first day since he was Gentile, or as a follower of a Jewish Rabbi, would he use the Jewish method?
  3. If you use “expert” resources, use several, and use some not from your own church’s point of view. In my faith tradition some men in the past who were preachers have written commentaries. That’s usually where my brothers and sisters go to if they have a question on a tough passage. But here’s the problem—if a preacher in my faith tradition interprets the Scripture in a way against the normal “box of doctrinal burgers” fashion, he’s gonna have to sell a lot of books to make up for his being fired as a preacher. Dissent from the normative doctrine of most established church systems is not generally allowed—no matter how well Scripturally supported. Therefore, if you are going to the “experts” seek to escape the dangers of groupthink and look for more than just your views spokesmen.
  4. Be humble. Jesus died for a reason. We are saved by grace through faith—no one should boast. We all need the blood of Jesus, and likely there is no individual or church who has a perfect knowledge of the Holy One. It is unlikely that we will ever totally agree on every doctrinal issue—and that is okay. Jesus died for a reason.

Summing up Part II

It’s easy to say we need a reset—it’s a challenge to do. But the great news is as the friend of Jesus named John put it, “For from his [Jesus] fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn. 1:16)

Also always remember, Jesus said that others would know “that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”(Jn. 13:35)

He did not say that others would know us by our perfect church, relevant sermons, impeccable doctrine, great concerts, or perfect moral behavior.

Love one another. That’s a great reset point…

(Image by Sunakri/Shutterstock)


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